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A Wilted Leaf In A Pocket: A Writing Challenge
And the Challenge Is?
My dear friend Ann on HP issued a challenge, one kind of spurred on by a comment I made, so I really feel an obligation to take part. Here is her challenge:
“Choose the most boring object or subject you can think of and write an engaging, entertaining, fascinating hub about it. You can make your own choice or write about one of the following:
- watching paint dry
- a blank floorboard
- monotonous music
- airport runway
- lying ill in bed with bandages on your eyes and no music
- a wilted leaf in a pocket
I’m sure you can think of something even more mundane. Just make sure you write about that subject as the core, not merely include it in passing.”
Seems innocent enough, right?
Let’s see if it is!
The Wilted Leaf
From water comes life!
The truth of that statement is all around us, walking on two legs, galloping on four, crawling, creeping, slithering, swimming, flying and sprouting, water is life and, in a very real sense, life is water.
Fleeting thoughts as I felt the textures of the wilted leaf in my pocket; snipped from its source of water it quickly withered and died, the vibrancy gone. A silly leaf, one of a multitude of billions, but this leaf is my lifeline and my anchor to sanity.
She had wild blond hair when I first met her, forty years ago, curls exploding from that mop of yellow-white, reminding me of a thousand yellow butterflies erupting from their chrysalis all at the same time. It was September of Seventy-six, the start of fifth grade, Sunset Elementary, Seattle, Washington. Her family had just moved to the area from Chicago, her dad some bigwig at Boeing, and she was Claire, Claire Sebastian, two first names, how cool is that, and she walked into the lunchroom that day, all confident and acting like she belonged there, sat down next to me and said, “I’m Claire and we’re going to be friends.”
I was pretty popular in those days, a big fish in a little pond, and I remember thinking this new girl needed to learn her place, needed to act a little shy at first, at the very least, and work her way up the Sunset ladder slowly, but that just wasn’t her way, and before long I was looking forward to lunch and hoping she’d sit next to me, and not long after that I was detouring on the way home after school to walk past her home, and then all pretense gone and I’d walk her home, and September turned into October and the leaves changed . . .
AND ONE OCTOBER
And it was the October of our freshman year at Roosevelt High School that Claire Sebastian woke me up one Saturday morning and invited me to accompany her to the park for a picnic, that’s the way she talked, accompany her, and I said yes, and we did among the changing leaves, their golds and purples, their browns and yellows, all providing the perfect setting as we sat on the park bench and she told me “I’m Claire and we’re going to be married one day.” And I’m thinking I’m just a bit too young to be thinking about marriage and all, but looking in Claire’s eyes I saw conviction and determination, and her smile well, it melted my heart, and what’s a guy supposed to say at that moment?
Well Claire wasn’t one to wait for responses, the words, at times, just exploding from her, so while we sat on that bench she reached out and held my hand, and smiled at me, and damned if I forgot all about being too young and I said “sounds good to me,” and then, I don’t know where the courage came from, I kissed her. And leaves have never looked so vibrant, falling all around us, some sticking to that curly mop of hair, and we smiled at the thought of our future.
And Every October Afterwards
And every October, through high school, and college, we would take Saturday walks, and she would gather the “prettiest of the prettiest” leaves and show them to me, and she explained “these are our leaves, and their color is spectacular because we love each other,” and her words seemed true to me, truer than any words ever spoken, and I loved her for seeing that.
And it was an October morning, on one of those walks twenty-five years ago, that I asked her to marry me, and she pulled me down into a pile of leaves and we laughed and cried, kissed and promised a future of love, and we both kept that promise, through job-changes and childbirths, three total, and sickness and health, good times and bad, every single day a magical journey with Claire leading the way, making dreams come true.
The wild blond curls turned gray, matching mine in color, but that smile never failed to deliver on that promise made so long ago, a promise of outstanding adventures and, as she called it, controlled craziness, crazy in love, she said, and she would hug me, snuggle next to me, give me real strength to replace the false bravado, and her smile was my anchor.
The Last October Walk
And she was still smiling that October morning, six months ago, when she told me about the doctor’s appointment, the tests, the results, the irrefutable conclusions, and she made me promise to always take those October walks, that she would be with me always, and hush now, darling, no tears, and wasn’t it just the sweetest love affair ever, she asked? And I cried then, big man, unashamed, the cruel reality of it all crashing down on me, and she hushed me again and told me love never dies, remember that, she said, that leaves may wilt and lose their color in the winter, but with spring comes new leaves and a new burst of color, just look at our children as the years progress, and you’ll see me.
So the Walks Continue
Every October you’ll find me now, walking among the leaves, picking some up, choosing the most beautiful, and putting it in my pocket, whispering her name, Claire Sebastian, that wild mop of golden hair, that wild mop of golden girl, taking me on a journey of love, changing my life, helping me to see the wonders of life, her smile always with me.
And I smile, as she smiled, and I thank the gods for that lunch period in 5th Grade, many years ago, when I learned my first lesson about love.
2016 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)
THERE YOU GO, ANN!
A promise is a promise, and I’ve delivered. I hope you enjoyed it and I thank you for the challenge and inspiration.